A confidential report published by an organization of 32 colleges and universities and obtained by. The Crimson contains previously unpublished statistics on Scholastic Aptitude Test scores and admissions rates broken down by race.
The study includes statistics on admissions rates for the class of 1994 and average SAT scores for the class of 1995, for all 32 institutions. Coordinated by the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) and issued in December 1991, the report is titled "COFHE Admissions Statistics: Classes Entering 1990 and 1991."
Detailed admissions data based on race were last disclosed following an investigation by the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights into Harvard's admissions policy regarding Asian Americans. In a report released October 4, 1990, the Office found Harvard had not violated federal anti-discrimination laws.
Asian Americans in the Harvard Class of 1995 have the highest average SAT scores of the groups within Harvard College, according to the report. The study also shows that Blacks in the Harvard Class of 1994 were admitted to the College at a higher rate than any other minority group.
Harvard's Black students in the class of 1995 have the lowest average SAT scores, and Asian and Native Americans in the class of 1994 were admitted at rates below the overall average, the report says.
Harvard's Asian Americans in the Class of 1995 have average SAT scores of 1450, Blacks averaged scores of 1290, whites scored 1400 and Hispanics averaged 1310, the report states.
Overall, students in the Harvard class of 1995 averaged 1390 total on the test. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67 said this is the first time ever that a mean SAT score for Harvard has been disclosed.
Harvard's average SAT scores for the class of 1995 rank the highest out of all polled institutions, with Yale second at 1350, and Princeton third at 1340, according to the study.
The average SAT scores for every individual minority group were also higher at Harvard than elsewhere.
With the exception of Princeton, which had a 17 percent admit rate, Harvard also had the toughest admissions rate in the Ivy league for the class of 1994, with 18 percent of all applicants admitted.
At Harvard, Blacks had the highest rate of admission at 32 percent and Native Americans had the lowest admit rate at 16 percent. Whites in the class of 1994 were admitted at a 19 percent rate, Hispanics at a 20 percent rate and Asian Americans at a 17 percent rate.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67 declined to confirm the statistics in the report or comment on the report directly. But he did back the general findings of the study without mentioning specific numbers.
He also said that Harvard was a member institution, has a copy of the "COFHE Admissions Statistics Report" and has "cooperated with COFHE reports in the past."
In an interview yesterday that lasted nearly two hours, Fitzsimmons defended Harvard's admissions policy. He said all students admitted are qualified on the basis on academics, extracurriculars or demonstrated leadership ability.
He also said Harvard does not have any quotas in selecting students and that Harvard has the strongest pool of minority students in the country.
"SAT scores and grades and other so-called objective criteria are only one subset of the many criteria we use," Fitzsimmons said.
Factors such as socio-economic background, ethnicity and geography are some of the factors that, in addition to SAT scores, influence a candidate's admission, Fitzsimmons said.
Fitzsimmouns attributed the gap in minority average SAT scores and white and Asian American scores to differences in socio-economic background.
According to studies conducted by the College Board, there is a strong correlation between SAT scores and ethnicity as well as between SAT scores and socio-economic background, he said. Fitzsimmons added that there is "a higher percentage of African Americans on financial aid than any other ethnic group."
"More often than for other groups, there are students from African American backgrounds who have overcome considerable obstacles in terms of making themselves the outstanding college candidates that they are-obstacles in terms of socio-economic background," Fitzsimmons said.
While he said ethnicity is "only one factor in deciding whether a candidate is admitted," Fitzsimmons also said certain minority groups, particularly Blacks are "highly sought after."
"Statistically, one could make the argument that it's easier for certain minorities [to be admitted]," he said.
"It's true that admission rates for Asian Americans and whites are lower than the admission rates for Hispanics and African American students and Native American students as well. But it's more complicated than that," Fitzsimmons said.
"The question we look at is how much more likely will white and Asian American students have access to the kind of preparation that will make one an outstanding college candidate here," he said.